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Tuesday, 17 July 2018 16:54

Owner of Auto Body Shop Damaged by Fire Is Grateful for Mason City, IA

Written by Steve Bohnel, Globe Gazette
Ron Lukes stands in the walled-off garage on the north side of his business, Lukes Central Machine & Parts, where most of the damage from a fire was sustained after a barrel of fuel caught fire Dec. 15. Lukes held an open house July 13 at his shop to thank the community. Ron Lukes stands in the walled-off garage on the north side of his business, Lukes Central Machine & Parts, where most of the damage from a fire was sustained after a barrel of fuel caught fire Dec. 15. Lukes held an open house July 13 at his shop to thank the community. Chris Zoeller, The Globe Gazette

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Ron Lukes, owner of the auto body repair shop at 360 N. Delaware Ave., said static electricity was probably what ignited the fire when he was changing a fuel pump on a 1999 Chevy Suburban in the northern end of the shop in December.


The damage totaled over $150,000, Lukes said. Insurance took care of all the structural damage, but clean-up of equipment and smoke damage led to out-of-pocket costs totaling about $50,000. The Suburban was totaled. 


Lukes was up-and-running three days after the fire on Dec. 15, but there still was a lot of work to be done.


"The problem is we had to move stuff all off of one wall, so they could clean the wall and move stuff back," Lukes said. "And that went on for around three months---moving stuff around. The loss of business and all the work with the contractors and stuff---it's a never-ending deal. Everybody loses in a fire."


When workers placed the equipment back, it had to be precision-leveled, Lukes added.


"It's time-consuming, and time is money," he said.


Richard Hayes has known Lukes for about 20 years. When he first heard about the fire, he checked to see if everyone was OK. Hayes also worried about the contents of the building.


"A big fire is a big concern, with how much has been totaled," Hayes said. "I've always been a car enthusiast ... you never know what could happen."


Lukes is grateful to the community for its support, and held an open house with free lunch July 13 at his shop as a thank you to the community.


Law enforcement and others cleared vehicles so contractors had easy access to the exterior of the building following the fire. Many clients continued to come in, despite the logistical challenges occurring inside.


Lukes said the explosion and fire at Charlie's Auto Repair in 2016 was much worse, and it's fortunate that his shop wasn't as damaged. Still, he hadn't thought about a fire until what happened in December.


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